Clinton Looks To Gain Sizable Lead Over Sanders On Super Tuesday

Mar 1, 2016
Originally published on March 2, 2016 12:10 pm
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Transcript

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

In the presidential nominating contest, there is more up for grabs tonight than any other day. We are checking in on the campaigns of all the major candidates. We're hearing about the Republicans elsewhere in the show. Now to our reporters covering the Democrats. NPR's Tamara Keith is traveling with Hillary Clinton's campaign. She's in Miami. Hey, Tam.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Hey.

SHAPIRO: And NPR's Sam Sanders is following the Bernie Sanders campaign - no relation. That puts him in Vermont in the town of Essex Junction. Hey there, Sam.

SAM SANDERS, BYLINE: Hey there.

SHAPIRO: Start by telling us where Bernie Sanders is looking to pull off some wins tonight.

SANDERS: So he's been campaigning all over the place these past few days - Colorado and Minnesota, Massachusetts, Texas and Oklahoma. But he's most hopeful for wins in Oklahoma, Vermont and Minnesota. Also got to point out, in Sanders' stump speeches there's been a shift in tone. His camp was just saying that he hopes to do well, not saying which states they think they'll win forthright. And in recent days, he's been hitting Clinton very hard on her ties to Wall Street, her vote for the war in Iraq. He's gotten tough.

SHAPIRO: Tam, Hilary Clinton is expected to do really well tonight. So what are you looking for in the results?

KEITH: I'm looking at Minnesota. She went there today and did a couple of events. And I don't know if she thinks she could actually win Minnesota, but I think she's definitely looking in - to cut into Sanders' margin of victory. Massachusetts - polls showed Bernie Sanders ahead. Now they show Clinton ahead, and so that's an open question as to how that will turn out. And, really, for Clinton, it's not about the number of wins. It's more about how big a margin these wins will be. This is a fight for delegates, and even if she can't win, she's looking to pick up delegates in states, even possibly including Vermont. But especially in southern states, that margin is going to be important and the big question, the big thing we're looking for is how well she does with African-American voters, how much better than Senator Sanders she does.

SHAPIRO: Sam, how is Senator Sanders approaching that question, yeah, of African-American voters.

SANDERS: Yeah. He's basically stopped trying to get black voters. He admits he was, quote, "decimated" in South Carolina. And if you look at the states that he's been going to these, like, past few days, he's been banking on the working-class white vote now.

SHAPIRO: If Bernie Sanders does not do well tonight, Sam, what does that mean for his campaign going forward?

SANDERS: So in Boston yesterday, he said that every state deserves the chance to pick the candidate of their choice. So basically he plans to be in this thing for the long haul regardless of what happens tonight. And it seemed like he can do that. He's raised lots of money - $6 million yesterday, $40 million last month - and that's with no super PAC and no big donors. His supporters believe in him, and he takes that seriously. He can stay in a lot longer than folks think he can with that money.

SHAPIRO: And after the Super Tuesday votes are counted, what is Hillary Clinton's next move, Tam?

KEITH: Well, even before then, she's holding her event tonight in Florida, which is a state that votes on March 15. She is already running ads in several states that are voting next week. And so even though it's possible that they could end up with a very strong delegate lead after tonight, they're not done. They even opened a campaign office in Hawaii. But also the Clinton campaign is starting to look ahead. They are starting to allow themselves to think or even worry about the possible Republican nominee. They don't know who it will be, but they are beginning to think about how they might deal with a Donald Trump candidacy.

SHAPIRO: And, Tam, do you hear that reflected in her campaign speeches? On the stump, does she sound more like a general election candidate than a primary candidate that she sounded like up until this point?

KEITH: Yes. So Sam was talking about how Bernie Sanders has been - continued to be very critical of Hillary Clinton on the stump. Well, Hillary Clinton has barely mentioned Bernie Sanders in recent days, hasn't mentioned him by name, called him her esteemed opponent. And she's also starting not directly but pretty clearly to talk about Donald Trump. She has a new line that's really popular among her supporters in her speech where she says that America is already great. We need to make it whole. She's talking a lot about breaking down barriers. Well, that might be in contrast to somebody who wants to build a giant wall. So she is definitely thinking about Donald Trump.

SHAPIRO: That's NPR's Tamara Keith and Sam Sanders following the Democratic side of the presidential race this Super Tuesday. Lots more to come from both of you tonight. Thanks to you both.

KEITH: You're welcome.

SANDERS: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.